ST. LOUIS - People filled the stands of Cardinal Ritter College Prep’s football field for a day of prayer against gun violence riddling the City of St. Louis. The Interfaith service was a community conjoining to address an issue that's proved difficult to resolve.
With eyes closed and heads bowed, the playing field at Cardinal Ritter was transformed.
“We’re all concerned about the gun violence in St. Louis, and I have a grandson. He’s just two, but it just hit home with all these babies killed out here in the streets this summer,” said Melissa Green, member of Shiloh Temple Church of God and Christ.
I am concerned and outraged that our community is not doing more to ensure that children will not be killed wherever they live and whoever they are,” said Ginny Brown Daniel, Conference Minister of United Church of Christ.
A choir serenaded the crowd singing praises in between prayers and speeches from ministers and bishops of all backgrounds.
School officials started off speaking about the core values of the school.
Those in the crowd attentively listened to the messages.
Mayor Lyda Krewson spoke at the event and named young victims of gun violence one by one.
“Twenty-two children of color have been killed in St. Louis this year alone and that is 22 too many,” Daniel said.
“To me, it is important to have the church and schools together because when people respect and love God, they respect other’s lives,” Green said.
Other speakers touched on young people deserving to live their dreams, the stress of being a child as of late, and the importance of creating positive alternatives.
People at the event said it meant a lot to join forces to tackle the issue of gun violence and especially to see elected officials among those praying.
“Beyond a vote doesn’t count for your grandchild or neighbor’s child or your friend’s child being murdered in the street,” said Green.
Green said it city leaders had the tools to help make the important changes needed to improve safety in the city.
“It was beautiful that we were sitting there, and it didn’t matter what we believed, how we understood God, or how we worshipped,” said Daniel.
“At that moment, we all worshipped together, and we all prayed together for the peace of St. Louis and that all children will be safe.”
There were more than ten congregations represented at the meeting.
So far this year, more than two dozen young people have been killed in gun violence in the Metro Saint Louis area.